Monday, July 22, 2013

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Posting from my rooted nook color

Okay, liking the nook color a whole lot better now. Rooted with ClockWorkMod 3.0.2.8 and Manualnooter 4.5.6. Everything went very smooth and definitely much more usable than CM7 on my slow SD card. May be I should replace the stock firmware with CM7 someday and check how it performs. That project is for another day; for now happy with the rooted B&N firmware.

Oh, I did have a hiccup, solely my fault - registered with the wrong google account and couldn't get my purchased apps. I had to do a factory reset and root it again :-(.

Gadget Updates

Not bad. Less than 6 months since my last post :-). Let's see the gadgets I've acquired in the interim ;-).

A Nook color. Bought for $200 plus tax B&N deal on ebay. Thanks to my friend Ramesh for ordering it for me and my BIL Srini for getting it to India. Also have acquired a iPad (also thanks to Srini) and should be getting a Samsung Galaxy S2 from letsbuy.com in a few days. I was appalled that somebody would pay 25K+ for a phone and here I have ordered one for 33K.

Any way, very impressed by the iPad. Nook has been somewhat below expectations. Touch screen response is pretty poor compared to iPad. Browsing is also a lot slower. Loaded CM7 via an 8GB SD card and also tried another SD card dual booting Phiremod and Honeycomb. Liked stock CM7 better without Phiremod enhancements and Honeycomb is beta quality anyway. Stuck with CM7 for a couple of weeks now and not really happy. It's quite slow, likely to the fact that it's running off an SD card. So manually nooted it today, if I feel like it I'll update the status in another blog post :-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lots of updates

This has really become a farce. Last update was nearly an year ago. Lot of things have happened. I have moved closer to office, much closer. I now stay next to Intel in Devarabisanhalli. Adarsh Palm Retreat Tower 1 is the place. Nice ground floor apartment. Bought it in Oct 2009 and moved in June 2010.

Sneha has started school - GEAR International - she has started in M0 Montessori. GEAR is one of the reasons we moved because "traditional" schools were admitting even for playschool only if the child completes 3 yrs in June. Sneha is November end born and GEAR wants to take in children into Montessori at 2.5 yrs which kind of matched our timeline.

My previous apartment in Jayanagar has been given out on rent since November. I miss Jayanagar but love the commute from the new apartment. There is a back road that leads to Cisco's back entrance; which was previously a bad road but now nicely done and hardly takes a 3 mins drive. I still need to drive about 1 KM on a mud road to the back entrance of APR but not touching ORR is a bliss. Things will probably improve on ORR once the construction is done but the back road is perfect for Cisco.

Since December 15 2011, I've also moved to a different Business Unit in Cisco - SAVBU. That's a big change after a 9+ year association with Andiamo/Cisco.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nokia E5

I am very impressed. Dedicated volume keys, GPS, 5MP camera, LED flash, 256MB internal memory, much faster cpu, very good battery life and 2K cheaper than what I bought my E63 for (12.5K). Removes most of my complaints except the lack of apps. I predict this phone is going to be the hit of 2010.

I am still leaning towards the Android but I think I'll hold out for Samsung Galaxy S pricing before taking a decision on my next geek toy ;-). Ganesan

Monday, April 26, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700

I currently have a Nokia E63. Had endless trouble with it initially - it would hang frequently when answering a call. After a firmware update, things are a lot smoother and I've begun to like the phone. Push mail via Good messaging works pretty neat. Google Maps is excellent - though I wish I had splurged and bought an E71 for the GPS. Phone is pretty decent for the price - I bought it for about 12.5K Rs and it's now dropped to around 9K Rs. For the price, it's definitely value for money. The keyboard is pretty usable and it's definitely a decent business phone. All that said, I do have a long list of complaints for the phone
  • Phone becomes very slow sometimes - could be due to Good Messaging.
  • Good drains battery and introduces an annoying bug. Incoming calls don't show the user name, only the number is displayed.
  • Lack of dedicated music keys. The soft key is buggy. If you're listening to a song/podcast and try to fast forward/backward the mp3 will restart. I found in some forum that the bug is triggered if you change the volume while it's playing (which I happen to do all the time). I can't believe this stupid bug is yet to be fixed.
  • No GPS. I already mentioned this. Cell tower based location identification is pretty neat but doesn't match GPS.
  • Lack of apps. I would dearly love scrabble and some decent apps on the phone. The only one I like currently is Google Maps.
All of which makes me interested in the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 which has recently got a Android 2.1 upgrade. Phone is available for about 12.5K which somehow seems to be my sweet spot for buying mobile phones :-).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cisco's recruiting

Almost a year since my last post :-(. Ah well, can't be helped. As is probably true for many companies, Cisco's also recruiting. Specifically in our Business Unit we're looking for a experienced manager in the platform area (bring up Linux on a Line card, drivers, diagnostics etc). Candidate should be 10+ years experience in related work with minimum of 2+ years in managing a team.

We're also looking for an experienced kernel programmer (4+ years) to work on the protocol stack in the kernel.

Work will be on Cisco's NX-OS which is based on Linux. Platform would be MDS 9000 and/or Nexus 7000 datacenter switches. Please send your resumes to grajagop at cisco.com.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Only Six months gap this time :-)

This blogging stuff is too painful. So what's happening in my life? Some Random rambling:

After ignoring facebook for a long time I finally took the bite. Seems to be a really happening thing, looks like I am a dinosaur in this social networking rage ;-). Found some old friends which is really cool.

Sneha's a year and 8 months old. She has a allergy and asthma problem which seems to be affecting a lot of kids in Bangalore. Allopathy doesn't seem to be helping much. We tried Ayurveda but it's very difficult to get Sneha to take the medicines. So we're trying homeopathy now. We just started with Dr. Latha of Raghavendhra Home Clinic in Jayanagar 7th Block (near KR Road). Let's see how it goes. At least, Sneha takes the medicines easily :-). Hey, thanks to all the folks who sent in references by the way.

Work is tight - as usual :-). Still find it hard to balance work and life after so many years!

Latest toy is a Nokia E63 mobile phone. Didn't have the heart to splurge nearly 20K on the E71. E63 cost about 12.5K. Like it so far - so finally giving my Treo 650 a good bye. I tried a E51 briefly but the screen was too small for my comfort. Like the E63 a lot so far. My biggest requirement was to sync Address book and Calendar. Mail was lower priority. Cisco has Exchange sync enabled over WLAN and I was able to set it up relatively quickly. Works like a charm and no costly mobile bills :-)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ganesan Reloaded

Wow. I can't believe it's more than a year since my last post. Lots to catch up. My daugher's name is Sneha. A lovely, bubbly 13.5 months old baby now. I'll post pictures now. She recovered fine from the infection she had at birth. She seems to have trouble adjusting to Bangalore weather (frequent episodes of wheezing). She's in my home town for the last 3-4 months. Hoping to get her back to Bangalore after the winter. Since Sneha is in Coimbatore, Jaya is obviously in Coimbatore too. I've been spending a forced bachelor life for the past few months. I've been going to Coimbatore most weekends but weekdays have been boring. I'll update on what I've been upto the last year in future posts. Obviously, I've accumulated tons of gadgets ;-).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

New Family Member

I now interrupt my irregular random, rambling feature to announce a new arrival to our family. Jaya gave birth to a baby girl last Wednesday (November 21st) evening :-). Unfortunately she (the baby) picked up some infection the same night and gave us some pretty anxious moments. She seems to be doing fine now though she's still in the hospital.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Wireless bridging with Linksys WRT54G

I had bought a Linksys WRT54G (version 2.0) a few years back for home wireless networking. Since I already knew that it was Linux based and eminently hackable, choosing this particular router was a no brainer. However, I never really bothered to upgrade the firmware because the stock firmware served my needs. In fact, after I bought a Huawei ADSL modem with a 4-port switch and wireless, the WRT54G was idling in the back of my cupboard.

In my recent trip to San Jose (Sep/Oct), I was waxing ebulliently about VoIP ATA adapters to my friend Ramesh Panuganty when the topic of putting the VoIP phone in another room came up. These ATA adapters (Linksys PAP2T, Grandstream Handytone 503 etc) come with a regular ethernet port. Both our homes don't have a wired LAN configured, so this was a problem. When we looked at wireless bridging options, we found the solutions to be quite expensive and supported only one port (See Linksys WET54G for example, 90 bucks for 1 ethernet port!).

Compare that to the price of Linksys WRT54GL for only $64 at the same website. You can get other brands like Netgear or Buffalo for even cheaper. So the question of whether you can use these devices for bridging to LAN segments came up. A bit of googling and reading confirmed that this is called "Client-Bridge" mode and is supported by all of the open source firmware options for the WRT54G.

Incidentally, I was feeling a dire need for a ethernet hub to debug the SIP registration problems (no low end home networking switch seems to support span). Wouldn't it be nice to run tcpdump right on the WRT54G for this purpose? So it was time to dust out my little box and play with it. It turned out to be surprisingly simple. I initially downloaded the DD-WRT version which seemed to be more popular. Following the advice in the wiki pages, I first downloaded flashed the mini generic version of v23 SP2. Without even checking it out immediately upgraded to the WRT54G "voip" version (no good reason, the "voip" just sounded attractive :-). Wireless bridging worked beautifully. Just configured my SSID and my WEP key and everything worked flawlessly.

There was one small problem. After wasting half an hour on it I realized that my 4MB box had no free space to install tcpdump. So I switched to the mini WRT54G version which gave me enough space. After wasting another half an hour on it because I didn't configure the IP router and DNS correctly, I managed to install tcpdump package using ipkg. Only, tcpdump didn't work. I always got a bus error. Okay, what next?

Fortunately I had already downloaded X-WRT image bundled with the OpenWRT "White Russian" firmware. I download the X-WRT because it promised a better Web UI and I didn't really want to muck around with the CLI trying to configure the box. This one worked great. The original settings from the DD-WRT firmware worked fine for the OpenWRT firmware too. I was able to get tcpdump working. OpenWRT is more Linux/Debian like (more software options and no weird Microsoft like SP2 naming for the image). So everything is hunky-dory now :-).

Friday, November 16, 2007

SIP registration saga continued

I am currently using the Linksys PAP2 adapter because it has 2 SIP accounts allowing me to connect to either callcentric or gizmoproject. I have only one phone connected but switching the phone cord is easier than changing the configuration everytime. Any way, I noticed yesterday that sipsak on the PC was able to query proxy01.sipphone.com without problems. But Linksys was still complaining that it couldn't contact the login server. Rebooting the Linksys didn't help. So I tried tshark on the PC and ran sipsak. In addition to the response to sipsak request, I noticed something strange. I was getting "401 SIP Status Unauthorized" packets coming to my PC. The content looked like some kind of Challenge for authorization which I confirmed by googling.

So it turned out that the BSNL Huawei modem had a messed up NAT. Response to the outgoing registration packets from the Linksys were coming to the PC! So I rebooted the modem but that didn't help either. I just retyped my password in the Linksys and that did the trick. I am reasonably confident that it was NAT translation issue; so BSNL is not at fault on this occasion. At least not since yesterday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

BSNL Broadband SIP Access is down again

Well, what do you know. SIP registrations are failing again for my Bangalore connection for the last two days. I know for a fact that registrations are currently going through in my home town (Coimbatore) for both my parents and in my in-laws. As I mentioned in my earlier post, non standard ports currently work - I don't know how long it will last. So I am officially recommending Callcentric which allows SIP registrations on port 5080. Callcentric accounts are also more feature rich than Sipphone (which is used by Gizmo Project). For instance, Callcentric allows you setup speed dials in the server which can be accessed by a four digit code ("*75xx"). SIP to SIP calls are free and I am able to call my home town over SIP without problems.

Some one commented to my previous post that BSNL is blocking specific range of IP addresses which may very well be true. I tried logging out my PPPoE session a couple of times to get a new IP Address. It didn't seem to help, I didn't have the patience to keep trying. But really, this sucks.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

SIP registration successful again

My Grandstream device has successfully registered overnight with the sipphone.com which is the SIP server used by Gizmo Project. So this does seem to be a temporary problem. However, this keeps happening fairly regularly, I'll keep monitoring and post if I see the same problem again.

On a related note, it's pretty painful to debug what exactly going on with these headless devices. This is not just a Grandstream device issue. I face the same issue with the Linksys PAP2. Grandstream did provide logging to an external server which helped me quite a bit. However, I need either a hub or a low-end switch that can do span. I do have a Linksys WRT54G, I can put openwrt firmware and do tcpdump right on the box. That's a project for another day.

Incidentally the Grandstream box appears to be running Linux though Grandstream website makes no mention of it. I'd love to get a shell prompt on it. It's a very small and sleek device.

BSNL broadband blocks VoIP?

Yeah, yeah, it's been a while since I blogged. I won't bore you folks with miserable excuses. Let me jump right to the topic. I have this neat Grandstream Handytone 503 ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) which allows me to connect a regular phone to it and make VoIP calls. I bought it from Telephony Depot, shipped to friend in the US and got it to India. Linksys PAP2 is more popular but this one is sleeker and has analog PSTN pass through which I liked (it doesn't work well with BSNL PSTN line, but that's a topic for another post). Any way, I have a VoIP account with Gizmo Project, voice quality is excellent, even better than Skype except for one small problem.

Suddenly, BSNL appears to blocking SIP ports. The clue is your device fails to register with the SIP server. For all I know this may be a regular thing because the problem keeps popping up for me once in a while in the short time I've used the device. I always thought it's a device issue but today I decided to dig deeper and here's what I found. Outgoing port 5060 (the SIP port) is definitely blocked for both tcp and udp (I test with an external BSD box where I have ssh access). So I found another VoIP provider called Callcentric which conveniently provides SIP port 5080 and SIP registration appears to go through fine.

The summary above looks simple but I had to go through a lot of trial and error. At first it appeared that ports 5061 through port 5080 were also blocked but right now just after I started posting this I was successfully able to get through to callcentric. I am using an excellent utility called sipsak to help me with debugging this. Any way, if BSNL is indeed blocking SIP calls that's really bad. VoIP is legal in India for individual users and BSNL has no right to do this. Ganesan

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Finding Technical talent in India

Happy new year to the crazy people still reading my blog ;-). The topic I am raising in this new year is the difficulty in finding good technical talent in India, especially senior developers. Tech leads in Cisco are expected to Code. Managers are also technical and many continue to code (including yours truly!). We're hiring - Cisco Systems in general and my own group in particular. I guess that's true for most companies in Bangalore. However, it appears that most senior technical people (I am talking about 7 or 8+ years) don't actively write C code. We're finding it quite hard to find good programmers. There are three possibilities.
  1. Most good developers are happy in their current job.
  2. The demand is very high.
  3. Good developers are in a minority.
I guess it's a combination of all these factors. However, I do feel depressed when I get 8/9+ years resumes for technical people and the person can't even write simple C programs or answer basic questions no data structures.

Oh well! By the way, if you're reading this and consider yourself a good C programmer (3+ years experience!), you know how to reach me ;-). We're looking for good Unix/Linux Network and System Programming Skills for working on an Enterprise networking switch.

Friday, December 29, 2006

New Tariffs for BSNL Broadband posted

Download speeds increased for all plans except unlimited plans. In other words, no bandwidth upgrade for Home 900 plus, which is what I have :-(.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Whither WiMAX in Bangalore?

2007 promises to be an exciting time for Broadband users in Bangalore. BSNL has promised 2 Mbps as default for ADSL. I am on the Home 900 plus 256 Kbps which offers unlimited downloads. If this gets automatically upgraded to 2 Mbps it will be bliss. Even though the good minister promises 2 Mbps in new year, the reality is there is probably some hardware upgradation involved and will be probably rolled out first on a few exchanges. It may be a while before every one gets it. Still, BSNL and the Telecom ministry needs to be applauded for pushing this forward. Private players will be soon forced to follow.

This brings me to the strange problem of getting connectivity in the first place. The consensus (at least in my Office) is that Airtel is the best (connectivity wise, don't talk about billing :-), followed by BSNL, followed by other options like Sify, Hathaway etc and to never go near Tata Indicom. However, getting Airtel or BSNL appears very tough. Even being in a "well connected" locality is no guarantee to get a connection. It seems that BSNL has virtually stopped giving connections in Bangalore. There seems to be a big "last mile" problem in Bangalore.

Which is where WiMAX comes in. There are reports that some company (probably Airtel) plans to cover whole of Bangalore with 2 Mbps WiMAX in 2007. The trouble is, while there are lots of news articles talk about WiMAX in Bangalore, no company website has any information about the launch. If that happens, it will be really a good thing.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Another long lag

Nothing new about the lag, is there :-(. Still haven't managed to find the LG DR165. I wrote to LG India, they gave me a LG contact in Bangalore. I called the person and he said I should find it in e-Zone and I should call him if I can't find it in e-Zone. I haven't done that yet.

Monday, October 16, 2006

In search of a DVD recorder

I've always wanted to buy a Tivo like device. You don't get program information in Indian cable networks (at least, not yet; though it's possible with satellite TV), so I was interested purely for live recording and skipping ads. I didn't dare to buy one in the US because of NTSC/PAL issues. The closest I could find in India was Samsung's DV-HR720 which at 24K is way too expensive for me (though the street price would be lower). The next best option was a plain DVD recorder. I got a LiteOn recorder from the US because it specifically mentioned PAL support. Unfortunately, I didn't read the fine print carefully. It turned out that it could play PAL but the tuner was NTSC only :-(. Bummer! I had to send it back. Despite, having learnt a lesson the hard way, I ended up getting another US DVD recorder, this time a Philips one (I won't go into the reasons to maintain peace at home ;-). That had the same NTSC/PAL issues. So I had to find a model in India.

I was pretty excited to see ads for a LG DVD recorder (model DR 165) in Bangalore Times of India for 11.5K. Though Samsung India has had a model (DVD-R121) in India for a while, I didn't know about it till later. Any way, the LG model is DivX capable (player only, not for recording) and quite a bit cheaper. Unfortunately, I can't find it any where in Bangalore (by any where, I of course mean checking 3 or 4 shops in Jayanagar area ;-). If any reader knows where I can get one, please let me know.

Another long hiatus :-(

I don't know how people manage to keep blogging every day, or even multiple blogs in a single day. Oh, well! What's new? I just bought a new Samsung 19" widescreen LCD monitor for my home PC. Ever since assembling my dual-core box, I've been shopping around for a LCD monitor which can take DVI input (my video card has a DVI out). My budget was for a 17" monitor but there were none available which can take DVI input. In fact the only display I found which supported digital input was a ViewSonic 19" model costing about 19K. The price dropped to around 17K but I was still reluctant to go with ViewSonic because Samsung is clearly the leader in LCD displays. Prices of LCD displays are dropping rapidly and I was pleasantly surprised to hear about this new Samsung model (940BW) decently priced (I paid 15.2K). I am sure prices will continue dropping but at around 15K it's worth the price in my budget. I remember paying 13.5K for my first 17" CRT monitor (I also remember about 10K for my first 2X CD writer ;-). I guess you can't call me an early adopter, but I am not too late either ;-).

Oh about the display, it's fantastic. Very crisp display, great colours. Both WindowsXP (yeah, I do boot it once in a blue moon) and Linux had no problems with the 1440x900 display resolution. Recommended.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sorry for the long break

I apologize for not blogging for a long while now. It appears that some crazy people are actually interested in what I write ;-). So I've resolved to start again :-). What's new? Well, in the last 6 months, I've assembled a dual core AMD 3800+ system for home use with the help of a Colleage at work. As with all tech stuff, the price of the processor has dropped drastically before I figured out something useful to do with the system.

Intel's new Core 2 Duo processors now appear to the best processors on earth. I am a big fan of AMD, but this time Intel seems to have a winner. For multi-core systems, AMD still appears to have the edge because of their better interconnect technology. AMD's new DDR2 based AM2 platform doesn't seem to be a significant upgrade. I am still hoping AMD will manage to pull a rabbit out of it's hat :-). In addition to better performance at lower power consumption (as if that's not enough!), another nice thing about Core 2 Duo systems is hardware support for virtualization with Intel's VT technology.

Speaking of Virtualization, VMWare Server is now free. This means I no longer have to build VMWare virtual disks using qemu-img. VMWare Server is really good, but I failed to configure booting from my existing Windows installation inside Linux (or vice-versa). Vice-versa (I mean existing Linux inside Windows) sort of works but I have to put in some funny hacks. I have a SATA drive, WindowsXP seems to think of it as a IDE drive despite installing the proper SATA drivers. The upshot of this is that, when Linux boots inside VMWare, the disk appears as hda, whereas when booting natively, the SATA drive appears as sda. I'll keep playing around with this.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Reading websites with horrible fonts

My company provides access to Safari. Safari default fonts are not very readable with Firefox with Linux. I could opt to override all fonts in Firefox settings but this is not very desirable. Instead I just "disable styles" (Ctrl-Shift-S) using the Webdeveloper extension. I find that this simple trick makes many sites much more readable. Now if only I could figure out how to disable styles for only specific sites, life would be heaven :-).

Site Feed

A colleague of mine was asking how to configure blog feeds from blogspot. It's not mentioned by default anywhere in the blog. Luckily, I did remember configuring some settings regarding site feeds. So I've now provided the blog feed URL in the blog title.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Looking for the ideal mp3 player

Looks like I am on a roll today, third post in a single day ;-). Anyway, I am looking for a flash based mp3 player with the following features. The following are the must have features:
  • Flash based
  • Removable battery
  • 512MB+ capacity
  • USB 2.0
  • FM
  • FM and Voice Recording
The following are nice to have features:
  • Built-in Speaker
  • FM Transmitter
  • Expandable media
  • Color Display
I've been shopping around and narrowed it down to a few choices but can't decide between them. Before I post my choices, any recommendations off hand? Note that the iPod Nano is out of question because it lacks FM and removable battery.

My other favourite scripting language - Lua

Scripting languages like Tcl/Perl/Python/Python can be embedded into a big program written in a traditional language or like extended by writing glue code to existing libraries written in traditional languages. The latter is definitely much easier, especially with a generic tool like SWIG or a specific one like Pyrex. Most Python experts recommend extending rather than embedding.

However, there are times when embedding is more useful. Also, in many commercial settings, it's sometimes impossible to convince management to write the program in a high level language like python. It's far easier to sneak in, I mean embed ;-), a language into a big C/Java program or framework. A language ideally suited for this is lua, for several reasons. The winning points in personal opinion are (in no particular order):

  • Simple API for embedding.
  • Language is quite small.
  • Minimal external dependencies.
Of course, all embedding scenarios will also require extending because the embedded script needs to hook back into the embedding code.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

More on Ruby

I've spent some more time with ruby. I'm not decided yet whether I like it. Perl was my first very high level programming language (unless you count Bourne Shell) and I fell in love with Perl when I learnt it. Even though I've moved on to Python for most of my stuff, Ruby reminds me of some of the nicer aspects of Perl. There's no question that Ruby is definitely a bettern Perl than Perl, at least syntax wise (as far as performance is concerned, Perl is still king).

Ruby syntax quite different from mainstream programming languages like C++/Java/C# because of statement modifiers and all those weird characters. On the other hand, it's object oriented syntax (i.e class definitions etc) is more traditional. There are private and protected methods. However, instance variables are always private and require method accessors (though it's easy to define them). Python is quite different, there is no protection at all at class level. On the other hand, Ruby classes are always "open", so you can just add another public method to access class internals. You can happily add attributes to objects after they've been instantiated in both languages (though ruby syntax is a bit tricky).

Oh, by the way. I didn't like the online book "Programming Ruby" first edition by the Pragmatic Programmers. Personally, I also didn't like "Pragmatic Programmer" very much, I think The Practice of Programming is a much better and lesser hyped book, but I am digressing. Coming back to Ruby, I found Ruby in a Nutshell a better a read.

One aspect of Ruby that I found frustrating is that most existing documentation covers Ruby 1.6 and there doesn't seem to a good changelog between 1.6 and 1.8 or even what's the changelog from 1.8.x to 1.9. Python changelogs on the other hand are very comprehensive and readable. And finally, of the three languages (Perl, Python and Ruby) Python development appears to be moving forward the fastest. Perl 6 is horribly developed and Ruby 2.0 and Ruby VM also seem to be badly delayed. In contrast, python appears to be making steady progress. Even projects like Jython, IronPython and PyPy have a vitality that's lacking in Perl and Ruby development. However, I must admit that Parrot development appears to be picking up recently and at least one Ruby VM, YARV, appears to be moving along quite well.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Starting to learn ruby

I've now started learning ruby in earnest. Why, you may ask? Because it's out there ;-). I made two earlier attempts to start on ruby but didn't really get going. This time I am starting in earnest with the Programming Ruby (1st Edition) book which is conveniently available online. First impressions: Language looks clean - it's definitely more "pure" than Python.

The line noise Perl like syntax (@, @@, #{}) is a distraction, but I can live with it. No bytecode yet. Performance is a bit of a concern. Rite is horribly late (though not as bad as Perl's Parrot). More opinions after I dig in a bit.

Trying out Google Ads

I created a google AdSense account but never really activated it in my blog. I am activating it today to see how this thing works.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Excited about VMware Player

I guess this is old news (especially if you read Slashdot) but VMWare has released a runtime version of their VM software calld VMware Player as a free download. I have always been a fan of Virtual Machines and other emulators. QEMU has been my favourite so far with it's kqemu accelerator module. I frequently use it to test different Linux distros and Live CDs. I've also got Windows 2000 and Windows XP running under qemu at tolerable speeds. However VMware Player performance is quite amazing.

Another thing that makes VMware Player so interesting is that it runs very reliably on Microsoft Windows. If you are a reluctant Windows user (because of restrictions at work) or a Windows user wanting to try out Linux, get the VMware Player and download the Browser Applicance Virtual Machine. "Browser Appliance" is a working Ubuntu Linux image. Though it's an older version, it's a full fledged working installation, so you can install additional packages or even upgrade over the network. The VMware configuration file is a simple text file and can be tweaked to install your own OS if you desire but "Browser Appliance" is a great way to play with VMware Player before you try more advance things.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Word Verification turned on

Two comment spams turned up immediately after I made my last blog post. So I checked the comment preferences if there is a spam blocking option, and found an option for word verification. Nice job blogger :-). I'd like to preserve anonymous comments from real peope, so word verification has been immediately turned on for comments. I apologize for the small inconvenience.

Is Bangalore spoilt by "outsiders"?

I normally try to keep this blog mostly technical. But today there was a huge, and I mean huge, mail thread in an internal company mailing list that started with a absolutely horrifying post about somebody being abused at the Bangalore railway station. The forwarded mail looked too incredible to be true, but has been later confirmed that the person who originated the mail did undergo the experience. This blog is not about that mail; I am sure you'll be hearing about it through other channels. What this blog is about is the fact this mail thread degenerated into a big flame war between "locals" and "outsiders".

There appears to be a growing feeling among some Bangaloreans that their beautiful city has been destroyed by marauding invaders. Like all such sentiments, there is a germ of truth in this. Even I, an "outsider", miss the nice and quite city that I first came to about fourteen years back. The city has grown massively, the infrastructure is in shambles and commuting in the city is a nightmare. But is all this due to the massive immigrant population?

Well, the superficial answer is yes. The real answer is that successive Governments have spectacularly failed to address the inadequacies of Bangalore's infrastructure to address the massive immigrant population. Just look at the incredible delay in getting the International Airport project started. The immigrant population pays a lot of money in the form of taxes, probably more than the rest of Karnataka put together. However, this blog is not about the Goverments' failure either.

Several other people who complained about abusive treatment they have had with Auto drivers, Policemen etc just because they didn't know the local language. If that in itself is not appalling enough, certain "educated locals" in the list, actually had the gall to essentially say these people deserve what they get because they don't know the local language. One brilliant individual went one step further and commented that if you didn't like it you can "go back".

I am truly shocked. I do get a general feel of discontent among the general public because of the poor infrastructure, high prices, astronomical propery prices and rents. I can sympathize with them to some extent. But to have your own cubicle neighbours sport an attitude that you are an outsider who has come in and messed up Bangalore! That's a bit hard to digest.

By the way our internal list is not just employees of my company alone. There is a good cross section of people of people from various IT big names in Bangalore. May be I am making a big issue of some comments from a small but vocal bunch of idiots, but I am really so agitated that I had to make this blog. Now that it's out of my system, I can get back to my regular tech oriented blog ;-).

Spam in my blog

I got two spam comments in my blog. I'd like to think my blog is becoming very popular, but the reality is that one of my blogs mentions the word "loan" and both the spam comments talk about a loan. I hope this spam doesn't get bad enough for me to require registration for posting comments.

Speaking about popularity, it seems that at least some people actually read it. It helped catch the attention of at least two of my old friends. N Murali from my school days in Shri Nehru Vidyalaya, Coimbatore and Davi Gupta from my M.Tech days at IIT Kanpur.

So I'm going to make another sustained effort to keep my blog reasonably alive.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

AMD Ad in Bangalore Times of India

Well, well. I just saw an for AMD 64-bit PCs in today's Times of India. May be some body was reading my blog ;-).

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why is it so hard to buy AMD in Bangalore?

I am a big fan of AMD. I have a Athlon XP based system for my parents in my home town, Coimbatore. I have a Pentium 4 based Home PC that given by my company at my home in Bangalore. My company has a nice option of two desktops (one at office and one at home ) or one laptop. I don't like lugging around laptops, so I had opted for two desktops. Recently I have been considering buying my own laptop or switching to a laptop at office and building my own system at home. I decided to switch to a laptop at office and build my own AMD64 based desktop.

I am planning to assemble mine, so what I am going to say now is not a problem for me personally. However, I am very puzzled by the complete absense of advertisements for AMD based systems recently in Bangalore Times of India. I used to see frequent ads a few months back but recently I haven't seen a single one. LG started advertising AMD based LG MyPC but now you only see LG ads with a Intel Inside logo. Same story for HCL. I don't even see the occasionaly ads that I used to see for non-branded AMD based systems. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but is this Intel's literal monopoly marketing muscle at work? Why are there so many advertisements for Intel based systems when AMD based ones give much more value for money?

Next Bangalore Debian Developer's Conference

This year's event was somewhat low key. Prof Sadagopan has thrown a challenge to increase the number of Debian Developers in India from 2 to 20 by the next conference. The date for that has been already fixed as Aug 19th 2006. Looking at the enthusiasm of the people I met in yesterday's conference and the enthusiasm of the so many Linux enthusiasts that in BLUG that I haven't had a chance to meet, the target is certainly very much achievable.

Debian Developer's conference in Bangalore

Yesterday's first Debian Developer's conference went off very well. Many thanks to Prof. Sadagopan, S. Nagaran from HP and all the other organisers that worked in the background. The event did not have high visibility, so I was pleasantly surprised when about a hundred people turned up. You can read more about the event in Natarajan's Blog and Ramki's Blog.

The meet was a wonderful experience for me and I met a lot of interesting people. I have been wanting to meet the folks behind the fantastic IndLinux effort and I had the good opportunity to meet Ramakrishna Reddy. We happen to live pretty close to each other and I hope to attend their developer meet the coming week.

I met some very interesting GNU fans, I don't remember all the names. I do remember Alok. We were talking about GNU Emacs and emacs-multi-tty. I would've loved to chat some more, but unfortunately I had a train to catch to my home town. Speaking about my home town, I met some guys from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore. I was happy to find some users of my tamil-gtk2im package :-).

They are a very enthusiastic bunch of people, and that's the thing I've been missing about these meetings. You meet so many so many like minded people at meet ups and it's a lot of fun. I think I've missed out a lot by not attending such meets, including the Bangalore Linux User's group meets that used to be regularly held a while back. The BLUG meet is back the coming weekend and I'll definitely try to attend this time.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Sending HTML mail through mutt

Why would you want to do such a crazy thing? Well, I like the ability to blog by just sending a mail through mutt and sometimes it's convenient to throw in a link or two. I tried various tricks, including setting a send-hook like this in my .muttrc like this:
send-hook '~t <blog_addr>@blogger.com'           'set content_type="text/html"' 
But nothing seems to work. I have to set the content-type manually by typing "^T" in the Compose menu :-(.

First Annual Bangalore Debian Developer Conference

The website isn't completely ready yet, so I thought I should post this on my blog.

____________________________________

First Annual Bangalore Debian Developer Conference

Saturday, August 20, 2005 2:30pm-6:30pm (Pre-announcement)

The first annual Bangalore Debian Developer Conference will be held at the

International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT,) Bangalore on Saturday, August 20, 2005 2:30pm-6:30pm. Debian and Free Software developers from Bangalore meet for a half-day interaction on Debian. The conference focus will be technical in nature. Being the first conference and with very few volunteers, we are organizing this conference as a low-key, techie conference. The main objective of this conference is to create a network and ecosystem for Debian Developers in Bangalore.

The target audience is: current or aspiring Debian developers, interested and sophisticated users of Debian GNU/Linux distribution from Bangalore. During the conference a few of attending developers will give talks about particular topics about or otherwise affiliated with Debian GNU/Linux.

Prof.S. Sadagopan, Director, IIIT-Bangalore has kindly agreed to inaugurate the conference.

The schedule will be published during the conference and isn't finalized yet. The broad topics will include discussions on potential development initiatives Debian developers could take up, sharing experience by Debian developers who have contributed and other experience sharing. This conference also aims at defining goals for the next one year among participants for Debian GNU/Linux based activities. The conference registration is free. However, interested participants are expected to be pre-registered. Please visit http://www.iiitb.ac.in/debconf/register.html to register yourself for the conference. You can also register by sending mail to: debconf-bangalore@iiitb.ac.in. Please visit the IIIT-B website for details of the venue and how to reach.

________________________________________________

Acknowledgement: This year's Bangalore Debian Developer Conference is being organized in collaboration with and support from IIIT-Bangalore.

This posting was made by S. Nagarajan (snagrajn@yahoo.com) who's driving this effort to DebianIndia@yahoogroups.com and I am posting this here to reach a wider audience.

As some of you may be aware there are only two Debian Developers in India. This is an abysmally low number, and I have to admit that I personally haven't done much to address this problem. I thank S. Nagarajan for taking this up and hope this mini conference helps to get more developers involved.

Has Perl 6 missed the boat?

I read that Dan Sugalski has left the Parrot project (Parrot is the VM for Perl 6). Perl was my first scripting language. I started with Perl 4. Till date Programming Perl First Edition by Larry Wall and Randal Schwartz happens to be one of my all time favorite technical books (the other one is Unix Programming Environment by Brian Kernighan and Rob Pike). I immediately fell in love with Perl and I still like it enough to occasionally program in it. I think some of the charm was lost in Perl 5. Though references and other features were a good thing, I think Perl became a tougher language for the newbie. CPAN is amazing, but writing a module, particularly an object oriented one in Perl was a bit like black magic.

By the time Perl 6 project started, I had found Python and more or less switched to it for most of my programming needs. Even though I missed the crispness of perl, and had trouble accepting whitespace significance in a programming language long after I stopped programming in Fortran, I learnt to appreciate Python's clean design. However, I still followed Perl development and used to read Larry Wall's Exegesis talks on Perl 6. IMHO Perl 6 changes the language too radically and it's simply taking too long to release. I am sure Perl 6 will be released sooner or later, but it's so different from Perl that I wonder if it will be really relevant. I think many people have or would have moved to Python or Ruby tired of waiting for Perl 6.

Mind you, I am not saying that Perl is dead. Far from it. C has managed to survive mostly unchanged for over 25 years. Perl is a wonderful language and I still believe every Unix programmer should learn the language. I am sure Perl would be in any good Unix programmer's toolbox for a long time to come. My only question is whether that'll be true for Perl 6? Or would people migrate to Ruby which is closer in spirit to Perl than Python.

In case you're wondering, I did spend some time with Ruby. I think it's a nice language, but I didn't find a compelling advantage over Python to switch. Python's evolution is very well managed and I believe Python has and will continue to borrow some of the nice features from Ruby.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Evolution vs Thunderbird

Kumar Appaiah comments "If you are really bothered about resource-hungry Evolution, how can you prefer Thunderbird, which is, if anything, worse than Evolution when it comes to resources?". Well, that's not been my experience. Evolution starts other processes in the background (evolution-alarm and evolution-data-server) besides launching it's own copies of spamd if I turn on junk mail checking. Still, I decided to give it another try and configured three IMAP accounts and a usenet account (same as my thunderbird) and here's the resource usage

30984 rganesan  16   0  170m  79m  17m S    0.0 15.8   1:37.58 evolution
 8428 rganesan  16   0  223m  51m  22m S    0.0 10.2   1:36.69 mozilla-thunderbird

Even though the VM size comes up smaller, combined with the other background processes, evolution's VM size comes up much higher. Besides, I guess it doesn't really make sense comparing the VM size, it's the RSS which really matters. Evolution also shows up other quirks when talking to Myrealbox IMAP server. Myrealbox's IMAP server doesn't appear to be fully standards compliant but still Evolution's quirks are very strange. Some folders appear twice and the Sent folder doesn't show up at all. The second quirk is especially annoying and strange because when I try to subscribe folders the missing folder shows up as already subscribed. On my other E-mail account on Fastmail, Evolution does not appear to take into account the folder prefix that I give (I tried both INBOX and INBOX.). Any way, despite these issues, I am actually beginning to like the look and feel of Evolution. It's a really polished UI, I'll probably play around with it some more.

I switched to using IMAP because I wanted an account accessible from multiple machines (I don't like carrying a laptop). But IMAP has the added advantage that I can easily switch between mail clients as I please :-). Kumar also comments that he prefers mutt any day. I like mutt too and I use mutt for all my pop accounts (including gmail). However, mutt's IMAP support is not good enough for me because, first it doesn't cache and second working with multiple folders is not easy.

Calculating Loan EMIs

In addition to technology I am also interested in money (who isn't :-). I really like the financial calculator that comes with the Handspring line of PDAs. I couldn't find a singe Linux App that matched it's flexibility, so I wrote a spreadsheet which I hope captures it's essense. Here's the spreasheet and description.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Request for Comment Posters

I occasionally get some comments on my blog despite my rather poor frequency in blogging. Thank you folks :-). Some times people ask a question and I have no way of responding because there is no E-mail address. If you want a direct answer do send a mail to rganesan at gmail dot com. Otherwise, I'll try to respond with another blog. At least, this does increase my blogging frequency ;-).

Aaditya comments if I have tried evolution. Yes, I have. It occupies too much screen real estate and consumes too much resources for my taste (just check the number of background processes it needs). However, I'd probably give it another shot because my office has already moved to Exchange and will probably move to Exchange calendaring pretty soon. I've checked that Evolution exchange connector does work as advertised.

I must say it's quite galling for a guy like me who runs a lean and mean desktop with fluxbox (earlier WindowMaker) and screen) inside a plain rxvt without background images to see so much bloat in modern GUI apps. I mean, I remember having a tough time reconciling with Emacs memory bloat. Oh well, I am getting old I guess.

Leena Dasnurkar wants to know which programming language I am using with SQLite and BerkeleyDB. For this particular test I was obviously using C because the internal Btree API of SQLite is not exposed through any scripting language. However, for my applications I use SQLite with Python. As to which is better, I am biased towards SQLite. Despite the extensive documentation, I find BerkeleyDB's APIs pretty painful to use if you want transaction support. The big advantage with using an SQL engine like SQLite and Python is that if you really need to scale bigger it's easier to migrate to PostgreSQL.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Testing E-mail posting again

E-mail posting was busted the last time I checked. If you see this in the blog, then it works :-).